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  • Edmond Lau

Parents: Do you know there are many singing classes abusing your children's vocal instrument?

Abuse - use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose; misuse. Treat (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly.

Young children are vulnerable to abuse, especially those who have already been, or are currently being abused. They may unable to resist or avoid abuse, and they may accept abusive treatment if they have low understanding, self-esteem or a low perception of their abiities. If their parents are poorly informed about parenting, the problem will get worse.

Unfortunately, this concept of abuse can apply to your children’s vocal training.

When children are taught with bad vocal techniques, the children misuse their vocal instrument and cause a bad effect (e.g. hoarse sound, speak with great effort). You do not bang on a piano, neither will you not bang on your vocal cords. It is not a musical way to play your instrument. However, because children has a fast rate of recovery, most parents won‘t realize the damage and let the process to be repeated. The victim is the children, not their teachers. They bear no consequences.

When children get used to sing like that, and when their parents are not well-informed, the problem gets worse. This is especially true when learning happens in a group setting where children are being compared by their teachers and they learn the bad habits from each other.

For children and adults, learning to sing is very difficult in terms of understanding. It is like asking you to describe what ‘salty’ or ‘spicy’ is. You are sure what it is, but you have no words to describe it except through bodily sensation. That‘s why you or your children will learn best in a stress-free, quiet one-on-one enviornment, so that your sensitivity to your body is the highest. In this healthy environment and correct technique, your children can concentrate on maximize their potential, and thus increase their self-esteem and gain a true perception of their vocal ability.

Abuse is a strong word, but vocal abuse is no small matter. In competitions or in my teaching experience of young children, almost all children are singing too hard after taking ’singing classes‘ (1-1 or group classes). They have put in too much effort. No wonder they lose their interest in singing when they grow older. I remember receiving a call saying that her children can vocalize beautifully, but her children needs help in emotionally express their songs. Shouldn‘t a good vocal technique automatically help the singers to express more naturally? Shouldn’t a good vocal technique help the singers to achieve different styles of singing and not bounded in a box? Shouldn't it help the singers to sing in their own voice rather than imitate their teachers‘ or the original singers of the songs? Did their teachers know that it takes a lot of time to undo a bad vocal habit?

Be smart parents! Don’t let people treat your children‘s voice cruelly or in a sloppy way. Otherwise, your children will be the victims of poor teaching, not their teachers. Don’t put them in group classes where peer-pressure makes them hard to resist or avoid vocal abuse. If your children gets less and less enthusiasm or confidence in singing, RUN! Don‘t walk! Search, ask around, pay if you have to, to learn about good singing techniques looks like. Your children worth it!

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